COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Southwest Florida is raising its glass to the 13th Annual Naples Winter Wine Festival. The festival has collected more than 100 million dollars for kids since 2001.
The children who benefit from these auctions got a chance to say thank you to the "stars" who have given generously to local charities at the 13th annual "Meet the Kids Day" and saw first-hand how their donations are making a difference.
"You will smile, you will laugh, cry as they say. We hand out tissues and they are necessary," said festival Chairman, Bob Edwards.
Hundreds patrons rounded the bases at Baker Field to meet with 24 local charities, like Lunch Boxes of Love, the YMCA and ELLM, the Early Literacy and Learning Model.
"Our role is to provide the materials and nurture the kids, that's our talent. They give their treasure to be able to support us. It's wonderful to see them," said Deborah Shaver with ELLM.
Mindy Wendt is mom to 9-year old Matthew Wendt.
"He's been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, SPD, and he is bipolar," Wendt said.
She says programs like Collier HUGS and Naples Equestrian Challenge have made all the difference.
"To know that you're not alone and what works for one doesn't work for another. These programs can help," Wendt Said.
17-year old Ivan Cruz has been tutored at Guadalupe Center of Immokalee since kindergarten and says he dreams of attending college.
"Big dreams! Sky is the limit," he said.
Cruz took the stage and says he hopes his story proves just how valuable these charities are to kids just like him. The cost of a ticket for one couple to attend this year is $8,500.
Over the past 12-years, more than 11,000 bottles of wine have been auctioned off.